Waddayathink?

Getting ready for D-day is a lot of work.  There is a house that needs to be readied for sale.  Even though I am fairly diligent with house maintenance, I still have things that need to be done before our place is presentable.  My goal in the past few years is to do one major thing to the house a year — new furnace one year, new air conditioner and coil, new asphalt driveway, and a new roof this past summer.  Windows were the next thing, a necessity for a 30 year old house, but they have been moved up in priority.  Carpet on the stairs and hallway also is being done in the next few weeks.

So far, I have managed to hang three new doors, replace two faucets and a bathtub drain, repair and refinish floor cracks/divots, install a new shelf under the kitchen sink, scrub the siding on the back of the house, rehang a loose shutter, scrub the wood deck, replace the door closer on the front door, put a new light in the laundry room, fix a spot in the master bedroom wall where my son punched a hole, repair a cracked door threshold on my daughter’s bedroom door and replace the strike plate (another son inflicted blemish), move a treadmill from the upstairs bedroom to the garage (and sell it on Craigslist), clear the books off of a bookshelf.  Whew!  If it looks like a lot, it is.  That has all happened in a three week period.  That doesn’t include finding a realtor to sell the house, or meeting estimators to replace the carpet and windows.

My favorite project so far has been rehabbing the kitchen cabinets.  Until I started working on them, I didn’t realize how nasty they really were.  They hadn’t been cleaned for years, plus many of the hinges would no longer close.  I removed all of the cabinet doors and hinges, scrubbed them with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and applied a finish restoring stain to them (the stuff is reallllllly good).  The ends of the cabinets that face windows were badly faded, so I got some oak end pieces and covered them, then stained them.  Finding the right replacement hinges was a trick, enough that I only replaced a few, fixed the ones that were totally bad.  It took me a few days, but after the doors were put back in place and the finish rehabbed, I am pretty stinking proud of myself.

The realtor also has shown some affordable condos to me, only a mile from my house.  They are fairly old, built in 1977. but in a nice area and in good shape.  Each condo has an attached garage.  Buying, if I buy one of those condos, will be approximately $600 less than monthly rent for an apartment (an expensive venture around here).

There is a lot to do.  We haven’t had the time to start on the actual divorce, mostly because I have been too busy with the house.  Once the house is ready and the holidays over, I will be more motivated to get to work on the real difficult task.

I don’t like the thought of what is looming ahead.  The holidays will not likely be pleasant.  Our kids will probably find out about the pending divorce, my popularity most likely will take a hit.  Christmas could be real lonely for me.  Maybe I am wrong, but I am probably not.  I guess maybe it will be a good idea to keep my nose to the grindstone, keep busy.

Any way.. about the kitchen cabinets.. waddayathink?

My Wealth

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The Job of the Bible was a wealthy man.

Why?  Well, he was blessed for being blameless and upright, he feared God and shunned evil. 

His blessing?  He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

I like that Job was celebrated by his family, enjoyed wine and feasts at his home and their homes.  God’s blessing was meant to be consumed, to be shared, a bounty Job recognized as coming from the God he served.  His wealth was measured in the blessing he received — children, sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, servants.  Abraham, another biblical figure recognized for God’s wealthy blessing, was considered wealthy for basically the same reasons.  They both were blessed for and maintained a steadfast commitment to a God who was very real to them, a God they recognized as the source of all of their blessing.

I am a wealthy man.  You may not recognize that by looking at me.  I don’t have a big wardrobe of fancy clothes, my house is a modest two story and small by many standards, my bank account balance is always slim, my car a nice VW.  I don’t have cows, sheep, oxen, camels or donkeys, servants.

So why am I wealthy?  I have bicycles.  I am blessed by being able to ride them.  Earlier today, I was sharing with a friend here that this riding season has been extended, the temperatures up to December comfortable.  There has not been a single frozen ride for me yet.  If the weather continues like it has been, I will be riding dry trails until the end of the year.  That, my friend, is a blessing.

Now, I don’t have a large stable of bikes.  I am not wealthy in that way.  Two weekends ago, my nice Specialized Camber FSR had a mechanical failure, the rear shock seals needed service.  Considering that I had a four day weekend coming up, I wanted my bike.  I carted my bike to the shop the Saturday before Thanksgiving, my ride cut short by the failed shock, hoping and praying that the shop would turn the repair around quickly.  Since I am a regular there, they usually do.  The shop tech checked stock for the shock seal kit, confirmed that they were in stock, tagged my bike, told me he would call when it was done.

I received a call from the shop the day after Thanksgiving.  My bike was ready for me.  ZOOM!!!!  Amused shop personnel waited for me with my bike out and ready for me as I walked in the shop.  Hmmmm.. maybe my excitement was too evident when I talked to them on the phone?

Three rides over the weekend.  Three glorious rides.  I am wealthy, indeed.

 

A Thanksgiving Turkey

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Before I scrub up and begin preparing my much requested cheese potatoes, I thought I would drop a few lines in here.  Shortly, my family will begin stirring and Thanksgiving day will start.  This one is going to a little different for me, one that will require a bit of acting on my part.

If you didn’t pick up on this one a few blogs ago, where I hinted around to you, this is going to be some news for you.  I am not writing about it, have refrained from making this announcement simply because I have tried to dial down on the real personal stuff in this blog, especially knowing that my wife monitors this blog.  A little over a year ago, I discovered the notes that she was writing from my blog, for what reason I don’t know.  It was obvious from the notes that either she planned to use them against me in counseling or perhaps if she could use them as leverage in a divorce.

My friends, that is what is happening.  I will be celebrating Thanksgiving today with my wife’s family, knowing that she asked me for a divorce on November 3rd, minutes after the final out of the World Series.  While Cub fans were celebrating all around my neighborhood, I was contemplating the announcement that she was granting me the divorce that I had asked for last year.

It wasn’t a surprise, really.  She has grown increasingly distant, avoiding contact with me.  In the last 16 months, there was no interest in showing me that she really wants to be my wife, something that I needed to see.  Really I needed to see that far before then, but since she asked me to give it at least one more try, I had hoped that she would give an effort.

I asked her the next morning, via text, if she meant what she had said the night before.  She confirmed that yes, she did mean it.  For almost a week, she avoided me so much that I saw her maybe one minute during a six day period that followed her announcement.  Once we got together, the atmosphere was calm and friendly, the wall of resentment that had been there before at least temporarily gone.  We discussed the timing of the divorce, when we would tell our children, how we would go about getting the divorce (use an online method called Wevorce), who would get the house (me.. although that has changed).  Part of the agreement we reached was that I would go to her family’s Thanksgiving celebration, she would go to my family’s Christmas.  We would tell our children, together, after Christmas.

After she called my parents and burned several bridges with them, she can’t go to my family Christmas.  Now we have to tell our children as soon as our daughter gets home from college for Christmas.

I have kept my mind and body busy by going about the tasks needed to get ready for the divorce.  My wife changed her mind about the house, actually requested that she get the house while I continue to make the mortgage payments (ummmm…. no), so the plan changed to something more fair for us.  We will sell the house and split the equity.  So I found a realtor, have started doing the little things around the house to get it ready to sell.  Our realtor recommended a handyman who works cheap, $20/hour, and he came by yesterday to help with stuff that I just don’t do quickly.. or have failed to do properly.

Such as these doors20161124_084608

I bought these nice solid oak bi-fold doors a year ago, stained them, and did a real bad job hanging them.  They worked famously until the bottom brackets ripped out of the wall.  The handyman fixed that plus added a nice oak threshold.

He patched a crack in the wall plus a few drywall tape cracks.  I could do those, but the result would not have been as pretty as the job the hired man performed.20161124_084634

I have shored up common debt, worked out a pre and post divorce budget, fixed a lot of stuff around the house, even moved a treadmill downstairs from the master bedroom and sold it on Craigslist.  That has kept me busy enough to keep my emotions numb, for the most part.

The most difficult place for me to be, difficult before the divorce announcement, worse since, is church.  That is where we met and being there by myself has been lonely for some time.  Last Sunday, I found myself shedding my first tears of grief at church.  I didn’t break down in front of a lot of people, just one friend as I told him that serving at Christmas might be tough for me, and I regained composure quickly.  I do fear what Christmas has in store.  My kids will know, may not want me around, and I may be alone for the first time ever at this time of year.

Until then, I will savor this last Thanksgiving to celebrate as a devoted husband and father.  It is going to be my last in that capacity.

Chicken Butt

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You know what?

No, not chicken butt.

No matter what happens, Saturdays are very difficult to ruin.  Saturdays most often are my days, days to get all that important stuff done, to ride ride ride ride, to kick back.  I protect my Saturdays, rarely give them away if at all possible.  When my kids were younger it was a different story, what with all kinds of kid stuff and their sports and little trips.  Even then, I always made it a priority to ride my bike, even if it meant BCDing it (Butt Crack of Dawning it).

Today was supposed to be very, very cold, as in the 20 degree range.  Instead, it was 36 degrees when I set out at 8 AM, clothed in fleece lined tights and three layers up top.  I was hopeful to find rideable dirt trails at Saw Wee Kee park, even though there were periodic downpours early in the day yesterday.  My VW carted my bike and I to the woods, found absolutely pristine conditions, almost as if it hadn’t rained for days.  Hallelujah!

My friend, Jon, was already out on the trails, his van the only vehicle in the parking lot as I arrived.  I knew I would find my energetic friend somewhere out in the woods.  Jon had probably been there for several hours.  There is no one who likes to ride more than Jon.

There was one problem.  As I landed my first jump, I heard the clunk of the rear shock bottoming out.  The bike felt like it was riding low, confirmed by a sharp pedal strike a few more feet after that landing.  I pulled to a stop, dismounted, inspected the shock and found exactly what I suspected — the seal was shot.  My ride was likely over unless it was simply a case of the shock being low on air, an easy fix since I had a shock pump in my car.  I turned back to the parking lot as Jon rolled up, followed me back to my car.

Things looked better after I pumped the shock up.  It held full pressure, sat real nice as I hit the auto sag.  Jon and I rolled back onto the trail.  I flew over the first few jumps, felt the rear end of my bike drop.  Sure enough, the shock did not hold pressure.  Ride over.

Jon and I took some time to catch up on things before heading back to our cars.  I had news for him, news that shocked the snot out of him.  We talked about it for a while and I assured him that I am OK.

Good thing my bike shop is on the way home.  Looks like they have the seals in stock.  I should get the bike back and get some rides in before the snow and ice takes back the trails for the winter.

So I decided this was going to be a day to get things done.  I did.  Cleaned up the back yard, repaired a window and screen, finally moved that useless treadmill out of the upstairs master bedroom and sold it on Craigslist, put together a list of supplies needed for repairs around the house, straightened up the back yard shed.  The treadmill ended up sticking in the maximum incline position when I tested it in the garage, so I gave it away instead of selling it — but it’s gone.

I built a nice little fire in the fire ring, enjoyed a conversation next to the fire with my friend Gina when she brought my spare mountain bike over for me.  Perfect timing for her to bring it back.  Gina teaches mountain bike skills classes for the local mountain bike riding association, had borrowed my spare to use with her students.  Great timing.  Now I can ride tomorrow.

It’s a quiet evening, solitary and good, my music keeping me company as I write, my orange and white feline friend warming in my lap.  Saturday is always good, almost impossible to ruin.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Old Man and the Pee

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I should be able to end this blog at the title.  It is an inspired title, one that simply came to me hour after hour one night while I tried to sleep.

OK.  Enough pee talk.  One benefit of sleeping with a CPAP is that night pees are no longer an issue.  As soon as that mask goes on, I don’t wake or stir (that I know of.. no family member has accused me of standing over their bed trying to stab them with a toothbrush.. at least not lately).

8fI was thinking nostalgic thoughts today.  In my office, I use Google Play on my phone, and the album choice of the moment was Journey’s ‘Infinity’ album.  As ‘Wheel in the Sky’ was playing, I realized that I was waiting to hear a KA-CHUNK and momentary pause at a certain point in the song.

♫♫Oh the wheel in the sk…. ka-chunk…(silence) keeps on turning♫♫

‘Infinity’ was one of the four eight track tapes that I had in my first car, a lovely red and rusty 1972 Plymouth Duster (or Ruster as it became known).  Whether it was REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Ted Nugent or the Doobie Brothers, I now have permanent ka-chunk embedded in my mind for songs from those eight tracks.  Who could forget the rocking ‘Unidentified Flying kachunk Turkey Trot’?  I know I can’t.

Of course, there were those days where the tape became stuck between tracks.  kachunk kachunk kachunk kachunk kachunk… and the tape couldn’t be ejected from fear of the pinched tape come flying out of the case.  I learned how to repair an eight track tape by cutting the tape where it had pinched, then holding it together with a small piece of Scotch tape.  Of course, that means that there are lyrics that I don’t know because that portion of tape was missing.

♫She musters a smile for his nostalgic tale… What a fool belieeeeeeeeves♫

Ahhhhh, those were the days.

The eight track player was one of the upgrades I added to my magnificent Plymouth.  My car came with black cloth seats, no air conditioning, and an AM radio.  In order to be a proper cruiser, the Duster needed a kicking stereo.  I added box Pioneer speakers and a Pioneer eight track stereo that was inserted into a slide mount under the dash.  It wasn’t like one of those sub woofer systems in some cars these days, the kind that practically stop my heart if I am next to one at a stop light, but my Pioneer system was pretty cool for its day.

Heck, I was such a chick magnet that I needed make out music.  AM radio did not cut it.

Then I graduated to cassette.  Oh the tales of woe I have.  How many weeks did I go with a tape stuck in the player until I finally gave the tape last rites and ripped it out of the player?  Many.  So many.

 

The Elixer of the Pedals

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Blue skies, 60 degrees, and time to play.  My kind of day.  The trees here in Chicagoland are turning color quickly now and dropping their leaves.  Days are nice, for the most part, and nights are cool in a leave the windows open pull the covers up sort of way.

Yesterday, my boss told me to celebrate the Cubs big win by taking the afternoon off.  Yesterday’s weather was just like today’s weather, so I finished up my work, cut out at 2:45, loaded my mountain bike up on my car and headed for my favorite trails.  I got there with time to ride at least 90 minutes, spend some time reveling out in the parking lot with the regulars who also are relishing this possibly last blast of shirtsleeve riding weather, especially since the clocks change tonight, and headed home to enjoy a burger with my son.  The trails were a bit greasy last night what with heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday, coupled with fallen leaves, but they were still good to ride.  My fitness has not fallen off yet, so the riding was fast.  With cool weather, I didn’t even feel a twinge of fatigue.

This morning, I headed out for a leisurely breakfast, took an hour or so to write before heading back to the trails.  It was around 54 degrees when I rolled out, but soon enough it was in the 60 degree range.  I was glad to have thought to bring my Under Armor mock tee, a perfect first layer, knocking just enough chill off so that I only needed a tee shirt over it.  Shorts were good enough for this weather.  After the first hour, the morning damp had left the trails and they were absolutely perfect.  As soon as the warm up loop was done, I found myself bombing the trails at full speed.  Two hours later, I pulled up to the back of my car, thrilled and satisfied.

One of the guys that I had passed on the trails approached me while I was opening up my car.  He introduced himself, told me he had been to the trails a few times but was still finding his bearings.  After listening to his description of where he had been on the trails, I told him about a few of the trails he had missed.

“You feel like riding a bit more?”, he asked.

Honestly, I felt like I could ride a few more hours, so I agreed.  I jumped back on my bike, introduced my new and thankful friend to some of the trails he had missed.  He is the same age as I am (old), but it was funny as well as a boost to my ego to see how much effort he had to put out to keep up with me.  Several times, we had to stop for him to catch his breath, and the guy talked my skills up.  Frankly, the day was so good that I was shredding the trails and everything seemed to be coming together.  I was having a freaking huge amount of fun!

Mike gave me his phone number, asked for mine, and wants to ride with me as much as he can.  Looks like I have a new riding friend.

Honestly, I had a lot of thinking to do from something that happened late Wednesday.  The next few months of my life will likely be a tough ride.  The rides yesterday and today, the times alone on the trail, were an elixir, a time to think and even pray while I rode, a calming that really helped me to find some clarity.  The bike has been a gift from God to me in my life, the way He speaks to me the best, and I needed what those rides brought to me.

Another nice day tomorrow — can you say RIDE AGAIN?  I can.  After all, I also got the lawn mowed and the leaves cleaned up.  I’m golden. 🙂

 

Fear the Teen

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Curious as to what I listen to while I write or while I pluck my nose hairs?  Probably not, but I am going to share it any hoo —

My neck hurts.  I have definitely been rubbernecking.  Don’t get that confused with necking, if any one who reads this is old enough to get the term.  I am.  And old enough that it hasn’t applied for some time now.

17 year old males are frightening.  I know there are plenty of fathers who agree with me.  We understand them, remember what we were like at that age, which frightens us even more and possibly even causes us to wet our adult diapers.  Even when I know what is coming, I am more edgy than Richard Simmons in a haunted house.

Of course, he would probably soil his running shorts.  How’s that for a visual?  You’re welcome.

You may be asking, Steve, what frightens you the most about having a 17 year old son?  Dealing with the girl question?  (No)

Zits?  (Nope, although that was a rough one)

Driving privileges?  (Nada, although that one is a source of high anxiety and so close that you’re HOT)

Video games?  (Ha, I laugh in your general direction.. while I fart, of course)

Enough questions.  If you ask more questions, I will have to marry you.

Garbage.  I swear, my son drives to the corner and back in my car and it comes back filled with enough fast food bags, candy wrappers, burrito foil, shake cups, plastic bottles, and other assorted junk food associated detritus to fill a landfill.  My son is a trash master.

I was not prepared for this condition.  When I was a teenager, I was fastidious, a lawn mower and so possessed with keeping my own car clean (and my parents’ cars) that I was hired to detail cars by neighbors and relatives.  How in the world did I spawn a refuse master?

A bit of that emerged from my gene pool when I was in my twenties, affecting me temporarily before I came back to my senses.  My bedroom for a short period of time became a bomb zone, with the rest of the house/apartment a pristine showcase that all single women adored.

I let my son drive my car last weekend, a four hour trek to Indiana for a visit to his sister at her college.  Was I frightened about him driving?  Yes.  A bit.  But not too much.  When he got home, the digital clocks in the car were messed up.  I questioned him about it.  As I suspected, he left the lights on and had to have my car jump started.  That kind of stuff does frighten me.  What shocked me more was when I entered my vehicle after he returned home.  His mother had given him too much spending money and it showed.  I cleared a path so that I could sit in the driver’s seat.  There was so much garbage, I can’t even estimate how much had to be removed.  Even worse, when I got in my car on Monday morning to go to work, more giggling bottles frolicked from under the passenger seat.

My advice to anyone with sons who are about to get their license — murder them now.  It will be worth the jail sentence.


On another note, I am ready for tonight’s game 7 of the World Series.snapshot_20161102

Cold Feet

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Did I ever tell you that I live in the Chicago area?  Probably.

Did I ever tell you that I am an incurable St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan?  Undoubtedly.

Saturday night, my feet suddenly felt ice cold, as in “hell just froze over” cold.  That can only mean one thing and one thing only.  Only one.

Did I ever tell you something using the words ‘one’, ‘only’ and ‘thing’?  Of course.

The Cubs won the NLCS and are on their way to the World Series.

I was afraid to go to church last Sunday morning.  It was not because it was sell your house and follow me Sunday.  It wasn’t.  No.  There was a distinct possibility that church attendance would be drastically reduced.  After all, the rapture certainly occurred overnight and the world was about to end.

That will only occur if the Cubs actually perform the impossible and win the Series.

My next door neighbors are absolutely koo koo.  Nuts.  Hog wild excited.  The other night, they brought ‘Cub cakes’ to me — chocolate cup cakes with white frosting and a big blue W on top.  It was Be Nice To Someone Whose Team Is Not In The Playoffs For The First Time In Six Years day.  I think they were hoping their kindness would break the Cubs out of their scoring slump.  Apparently that worked.

Tonight, while I was mowing the lawn, my neighbors suddenly emerged from their house, yelling and screaming and waving a huge white W flag while marching around me.  Cub fans are a little dense.  Never taunt an angry man who is pushing a gas powered machine with whirling, sharp blades.

I joke.  I only mooned them…… (_._)

20161024_191647Now they have placed a little white W flag on the fence facing my house, a solar spotlight illuminating it so I can enjoy viewing it all night.  Yay.  Yippee.

Lest any one forget, I have failed miserably in raising my son.  He is a Cub fan.

I knew that this time was coming.  The Cubs were too good last season, barely missing the World Series.  I imagined escaping to a remote island on the Pacific, a refuge from the heckling, scantily clad island girls feeding me grapes and bringing me Coronas.  What I have discovered by weathering the storm is that this might be one of the most pleasant experiences that I have ever had, rivaling the celebrations I have had watching my Cardinals winning the World Series multiple times.  Seriously.  Cub fans are ecstatic, civil, giddy.. and it is truly enjoyable watching them celebrate.  I haven’t missed an inning of the Cubs’ playoff games the past few weeks, doubt that I will miss a World Series game.  This is fun.  It really is.

Don’t expect me to go overboard.  I would rather WATCH the celebration, not actually declare my love for the team.

See you at the end of the world.  It could be coming reaaaaaaaalllllll sooooooon.